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Developers lining up for public assistance

(ran PW, PS editions)

When developers looking to invest more than $50-million in building projects here approached the city about their intentions, there was one caveat:

New Port Richey needed to give a little to get a little.

Separate project leaders are seeking a combined $1-million in public-funded improvements ranging from help with sewer hook-ups to reimbursing administrative fees.

City leaders heard the first of six requests Tuesday night. The developers are essentially seeking similar aid they receive from other cities, said Gerald Paradise, the city's redevelopment director.

A request by developer Tony Gigliotti of Tarpon Springs was the first to go before directors of the Community Redevelopment Agency.

Gigliotti sought help in May for work he is doing on the Glen Crest Apartments _ a $2.5-million investment on Congress Street across from Gulf Middle School.

He requested $152,000 in city aid for water and sewer connections. He also asked that fees be reimbursed for costs including site and building permits. The board favored paying permit costs but balked at the $152,000 balance.

"We plan to make it a nice apartment complex," he said, but the fees and connections have held up plans.

The apartments initially began in 1998 as a three-building condominium complex. When the developer ran into financial problems, work on one of the buildings wasstopped. It sat vacant until May. Now Gigliotti wants to turn it into a 16-unit apartment building.

It would preferably be marketed to seniors, he said. "That would be my first desire."

The other five requests will be considered at future dates.

In other action Tuesday, agency directors approved revised costs for restoring the historic Our Lady Queen of Peace Church. Bids for construction work on the former church, now located in Sims Park, came in too high last month.

The city opted to explore changing some materials and removing some work on the project. Officials also began renegotiating with Jacksonville-based Worth Contracting, Inc. _ the lowest bidder at $215,109.

City staffers are currently seeking to extend a $41,000 state grant for the restoration.

Finally, CRA directors _ comprising New Port Richey's five elected council members _ approved an expanded riverfront revitalization project spearheaded by County Commissioner Peter Altman.

Altman said on Monday that he now has contracts to purchase restaurants Only the Best and Juan's Black Bean Deli. He intends to add them to the residential and recreation complex his company, Main Street Landings Inc., is designing along New Port Richey's riverfront.

Plans included vacation rentals, a waterfront restaurant, retail shops and a canoe and kayak outfitter.

On Tuesday, Altman outlined further details for a mixed-use project that involves 32 owner-occupied condos and eight short-term vacation rentals. The project would include a two-story retail office building, a three- or four-story condo building, a two-story retail lodge.